Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So Here's the Deal on Offshore Drilling

New York Times -- Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time
If the Senate is willing to get on board with global warning legislation, President Obama might allow some expanded oil exploration off the U.S. coast.
Writer John Broder wonders if this will alienate enviros, but since the plan is limited in scope, delayed and conditional, only the hard liners will grouse. These days, Obama is flying so high with the Left that he could move Yucca Mountain to ANWAR and sign the order in a sealskin coat and probably get away with it.
Though the move will jazz pressies who are looking for new examples of Obama’s post health-care powers, it seems unlikely that this will break up the bipartisan coalition against cap and trade.
What Obama is essentially offering to do is not fight fir the extension of an existing congressional moratorium on offshore drilling. That has limited stroke in terms of a compromise offer since an extension would have been election year poison to Democrats anyway.
And what the president would do himself won’t happen for a long time. Expect Republicans to cheer his first step and call for him to go the rest of the way.
“The first lease sale off the coast of Virginia could occur as early as next year in a triangular tract 50 miles off the coast that had already been approved for development but was held up by a court challenge and additional Interior Department review, officials said.
But as a result of the Obama decision, the Interior Department will spend several years conducting geologic and environmental studies along the rest of the southern and central Atlantic Seaboard. If a tract is deemed suitable for development, it is listed for sale in a competitive bidding system. The next lease sales — if any are authorized by the Interior Department — would not be held before 2012.”

Wall Street Journal -- White House Court Brief Backs Race-Based Admissions
The racial preferences in the University of Texas admissions process are likely to be the next battlefield in the war over affirmative action.
UT reserves three quarters of its freshman slots for students in the top 10 percent of in state high schools. The other quarter are selected on “holistic” criteria designed to boost black and Hispanic enrollment.
The program, instituted three years ago, is intended to help minority students in majority-white schools who lag their pallid peers.
While the Supreme Court upheld University of Michigan Law School’s right to discriminate subjectively to achieve a more diverse student body in 2007, this is a different case with a different court.
Because of the statistical discrimination and hard quotas, there are fewer penumbras in which to hide discrimination and Justice Alito is not of the same race-centric generation as his predecessor, Sandra Day O’Connor.
Writer Jess Bravin explains that seeing where the train is heading, the Obama administration is getting ready for a passionate defense of the quota system.
With the Fifth Circuit taking up the case, expect a real brouhaha.
“‘[The] university's effort to promote diversity is a paramount government objective,’ says the brief filed by the Education and Justice departments. The administration disputed claims that Texas was simply engaging in raw racial preferences.
‘The question is not whether an individual belongs to a racial group, but rather how an individual's membership in any group may provide deeper understanding of the person's record and experiences, as well as the contribution she can make to the school,’ the brief says.”

New York Times -- Despite Doubt, Karzai Brother Retains Power
The argument against President George W. Bush’s strategy for stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan was that if the locals didn’t think we would ever leave they would never stand up and govern themselves.
But now that we have a timetable for our colossal nation-building effort in Afghanistan, how can we get friendly Afghans to change their ways if they know that we will start trying to pull out in 14 months?
As Examiner colleague Sara Carter points out today, the Pakistanis are fuming because some of the Talibani they hand over to the Afghans end up getting cut loose as part of side deals with the government in Kabul.
The larger problem is that Hamid Karzai will need his own warlord coalition to have any kind of chance to govern if the U.S. really could execute a 2011 drawdown. That urge to survive, of course, only makes it more likely that the drawdown will not come to pass and that our commitment to Afghanistan will deepen, not wane.
Writer Dexter Filkins looks again at Karzai’s brother, Ahmed, who seems to function as a go-between from the government to the narco-warlords with whom the government is looking to forge a separate peace.
Ahmed Karzai is also the Donald Trump of Afghanistan, doing real estate deals (where he knows NATO forces will need property) and providing his own security force to protect his assets, a force which might one day form the core of a Karzai family palace guard.
“Perhaps the most vivid example of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s reach came last August, when his brother sought re-election. According to Western diplomats in Kabul, he cut deals with insurgent groups to refrain from attacking polling stations, and then helped orchestrate a large-scale campaign of forging ballots on his brother’s behalf. “

Washington Post -- In blueprint for Haiti, U.S. takes new approach to aid
The Obama administration has decided not to let the crisis of the Haitian earthquake go to waste.
Writer Mary Beth Sheridan got an advance look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s $1 billion nation-building plan for the island kleptocracy.
The idea is to take the techniques we’ve honed in Iraq and Afghanistan and apply them to Haiti.
The reason the billions poured into Haiti before went down the rat hole of corruption was because America had to work through the existing government (or try to pick sides among the existing corrupt factions). The new way is to make a government to our liking from the ground up. That $1 billion will turn into $10 billion in no time.
“The most dramatic change is an effort to build up Haiti's fragile government, instead of working around it. In an emergency spending request sent to Congress last week, the administration says it will help reconstruct the Haitian government, paying for new ministry offices. More broadly, the goal is to develop the framework of a modern state -- spending money to help Haiti create building codes, regulatory systems and anticorruption standards. U.S. funds would be used to train and pay Haitian officials… Now, all but one of its ministries are in ruins. Nearly 17 percent of Haiti's civil servants died in the disaster…
The Obama administration insists that its plan will help the Haitian government with its own priorities -- not impose a U.S. vision. The plan, however, allots $48 million to housing and offices for up to 300 short- and long-term U.S. personnel.

Shelby Steele -- Barack The Good
Steele is a man at the peak of his powers. As writer who focuses on race and American culture, the Age of Obama is prime time for Steele.
His latest is a meditation on the perils of having a president who was history making from the moment he won office. You really must read this piece.
“Mr. Obama's success has always been ephemeral because it was based on an illusion: that if we Americans could transcend race enough to elect a black president, we could transcend all manner of human banalities and be on our way to human perfectibility. A black president would put us in a higher human territory. And yet the poor man we elected to play out this fantasy is now torturing us with his need to reflect our grandiosity back to us.
Many presidents have been historically significant in retrospect, but Mr. Obama had historic significance on his inauguration day. His inauguration told a transcendent American story. Other presidents work forward into their legacy. Mr. Obama is working backwards into his.”

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